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The lost plot: How to grow garlic

Traditionally, garlic is planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest day.

Garlic is a relatively heavy feeder, so dig in plenty of compost, some general garden fertiliser and lime before planting.

Break the garlic bulb up into individual cloves just before planting as the clove will start to “grow” as soon as it is broken up.

Press the cloves into the soil with the narrow end up so they are just covered – approximately twice as deep as the clove. Plant 15cm apart and allow 30cm between rows.

Garlic needs little watering during winter, but increase watering during spring growth. One month before harvesting, reduce watering to improve the keeping quality. Feed every four weeks with vegetable food during key growth periods to encourage healthy growth.

Harvest around the longest day of the year (21 June for the northern hemisphere or 21 December for the southern hemisphere) or when the foliage turns brown. Lift by loosening the soil around the bulb with a fork and pull the bulbs up by the tops. Leave to dry in a cool, dark space for 2-4 weeks to help the flavour develop.

When the foliage is dry, trim it back to the top of the bulb and store in a string bag in a well-ventilated area, or leave about 15cm of foliage on top and braid the bulbs into bunches.

First published: Jun 2019
Last updated: June 9, 2022